The CNY Song Gong Xi Gong Xi Has a Dark History & It’s Not to Celebrate a New Year


Last Updated on 2024-02-06 , 9:04 am

Upon hearing the song Gong Xi Gong Xi, almost anyone can sing the lyrics (at least the chorus) and will hang onto the catchy beat fairly quickly.

It sounds so happy, everyone’s singing it during Chinese New Year, and it has become one of the most-played songs during this period.

I mean, hear this out.

But do you know that cheerful song has a darker meaning, created out of a more mournful event than the annual celebration the Chinese love so much?

Yeah. Once you know this, you can’t unknow this.

If you prefer to watch a video about this topic, watch this instead:

Origin of Song

Both the lyrics and song were composed by Chen Gexin in Shanghai 1945, where he used the pen names Lin Mei and Qing Yu.

Back then, when the Japanese decided to expand their territory, they started the Second Sino-Japanese war, the largest Asian war in the 20th century.

With the Japanese marching into Nanking, violence was rife and fear ran rampant. Few were spared in the battle, as thousands of Chinese were involved in the torture, rape and murders.

As many as 80,000 women from all ages and races were raped, and even men were sodomised before being forced to rape or be raped. Torture executed could be in the form of mutilation or live burials, occasionally by vicious dogs or fire.

Chen Gexin himself was captured and tortured for months for writing patriotic songs. Imagine the suffering he had to endure all for the love of his country.

China Won and Chen Wrote a Song

Perhaps the composer’s pain brought out this song, for his days of torture had ended when China won.

His experience in the war could then have affected how the song Gong Xi Gong Xi is in the minor key, to express his sorrow during the tough period of time, and also impacted his future musical pieces.

The original version isn’t so “happy”; this was how it sounded like originally.

Somehow, through the years, it evolved into a CNY song. Pretty shocking if you think about it.


So next time when you hear the lyrics (which will all make sense if you think about it), maybe now you’ll remember why this song was created, and all the more cheer for what it stood for.

After all, if you break down the lyrics, you won’t find any “gong xi” for a new year, but a “gong xi” for something – something we’ve all taken for granted.


Featured Image: Peiling Lee /